Fri, 05 Feb 2010

The country should get its act together and make several changes if it wants to keep feeding its people amid volatile commodity prices, climate change effects and an ever-increasing population, officials said Wednesday.

Deputy Agriculture Ministry Bayu Krisnamurthi said in a discussion about food security that Indonesia should make solid efforts in food provision matters to cope with current problems.

“We must be aware that food commodity prices are easily influenced by external influences, and this is not only concerning export-import matters, but a wider scope of international events,” he said.

Bayu added that commodity prices were vulnerable because people could easily shift their investment from one commodity to another.

Climate change has become another threat to the country’s agriculture, and thus, food supplies, he said.

“Right now, we are OK. But the situation will worsen if we encounter more droughts or floods,” Bayu said.

The need for resilience is urgent amid the growing population, he added.

“If the basic population growth is 1.3 percent a year, each year we have 3.5 million more mouths to feed,” Bayu said.

Using data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, the discussion heard that the current population, around 233 million, needed 32 million tons of rice, 18 million tons of corn, and three million tons of soy product.

In 2025, the population may balloon to more than 273 million people, who are predicted to need 38 million tons of rice, 32 million tons of corn and over 3.5 million tons of soy.

The country, on the other hand, is predicted to be capable of producing more than 39 million tons of rice, 19 million tons of corn and 1.3 million tons of soy.

However, despite the rice surplus, Indonesia depends on other countries to supply its soy.

In 2025, the ministry targets 55 million tons of rice, 53 million tons of corn and 4.3 million tons of soy production.

Bayu said that the term “food security” should also take into account the people’s nutritional needs, depicted as decent in statistics yet said to contain disparities.

“Our [average] carbohydrate intake is 48 percent higher than the recommended amount, and our protein intake is also higher than that recommended.

“However, we know that there are many people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition,” he said.

Sutarto Alimoeso, the president director of state-owned logistics company Bulog, said the country should pay more attention to food and agriculture.

He also called for food diversification, especially regarding staple foods such as rice. (dis)